The lovely bones

I knew an Orthodox priest who had started out as a Southern Baptist growing up in North Carolina. He told me once that while his family was generally receptive to his conversion, one devotional practice in particular made them pull up short: “You kiss bones from dead bodies?” one aunt incredulously asked.

Catholics do, too, and I like that; it’s a nice rejoinder to the old Gnostic/Cathar heresy that material things are inherently evil. Creation and created things are good, even when they look like they’re ready to become Halloween decorations.

Gnosticism is very much in vogue these days, at least some version of Gnostic belief filtered through modern sensibilities, which often ends up as something that very few second and third century believers in what we call Gnosticism would recognize. But I like a physical faith; it reminds people they’re rooted in the world of things, not just floating above it.

It also makes Catholics and Orthodox Christians the Goths of world religion, but that’s another tale.

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6 Responses to The lovely bones

  1. leftover says:

    I don’t see how “kissing bones” should be considered any more unusual than eating flesh or drinking blood.

    • tombreen23 says:

      Well, Southern Baptists don’t do that. Puzzlingly, although often insisting on a literal interpretation of the Bible, they generally take the Eucharist to be completely metaphorical. See also: the tortuous metaphorical readings of Jesus’ edict that it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

  2. SusanLCampbell says:

    Dunno how you two guys feel about one another, but reading your conversation is like watching a really good tennis match. Can I be the water girl? (I’d prefer to be line judge, but I’m willing to start small.)